Driving Route 66 is very much about the journey rather than the destination and part of the fun is staying in a new place every night! There’s a huge range of accommodation options from campgrounds, to big chain hotels but for this post I’m embracing the unique motels on Route 66! I’m talking about the individual ‘independent’ motels. The ones covered in Route 66 memorabilia and the classic neon signs! I’m guilty for staying in some chains during my trip (you can see a full list in my Route 66 2 week itinerary), so I’ve teamed up with some awesome travel bloggers who have contributed some of their experiences of motels on Route 66!
Unique Motels on Route 66
Route 66 Hotel – Springfield
625 E St Joseph St, Springfield, IL 62703
Route 66 Hotel is located along the original historic Route 66 Highway. It was originally the first Holiday Inn location and the hotel and conference center features 108 hotel rooms and six suites. There is a lot of neat memorabilia and is next door to the Cozy Dog Drive In!
Munger Moss Motel – Lebanon
1336 Rte 66, Lebanon, MO 65536
Roxanna: Gypsy With A Day Job
Munger Moss had humble beginnings in 1936 as a sandwich shop serving the military traffic of Fort Leonard. In 1945, when the military base was moved, the current 4 acre parcel of land was purchased, and the motel was built in 1946.
In 1971, the Munger Moss Motel was bought by Bob and Ramona Lehman, who still own and operate the property. Original furnishings are still in place, and rooms are decorated with a country theme, and pictures from Route 66 treasures of the past. The rooms are clean, and the blankets and sheets smell freshly laundered. The owners work the counter themselves, and there is a small gift shop in the office.
It is a great stopping location, but those wishing to stay in the area will find a bowling alley across the street, a Route 66 museum in town, and several state parks and conservation areas just a few minutes away.
(Photo Credit: Roxanna – Gypsy With a Day Job)
Route 66 Rail Haven Motel – Springfield
203 S Glenstone Ave, Springfield, MO 65802
Connie: Midwest Wanderer
In 1938 brothers Elwyn and Lawrence Lippman built eight sandstone cottages on their grandfather’s apple orchard along Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri. Through the years the property went through many upgrades, including changing from cottages to a strip motel. Today, the 93-room Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven is made up of several strips with outdoor room access. Rooms are modernized but maintain the vintage flavor. You won’t find a big fluffy duvet or a dozen pillows on the bed. However, the rooms are comfortable and clean with plenty of room for an easy chair, desk, and other standard motel features and amenities. The complimentary breakfast is served in the building that is also the motel lobby and decorated in 1950s Route 66 nostalgia.
Read Connie’s review of the Route 66 Rail Haven Motel here.
(Photo Credit: Connie – Midwest Wanderer)
The Big Texan Motel – Amarillo
7701 Interstate 40 Access Rd, Amarillo, TX 79118
The Big Texan Motel from the outside looks like a brightly coloured Wild West village! There are swinging saloon doors leading into the bathroom area, there’s a Texas shaped swimming pool (seasonal) and even a HORSE hotel!!! The Big Texan Motel has 54 rooms altogether with a 24 hour reception or if you are after a campground, just down the road is the Amarillo Ranch RV park!
The Big Texan is located next to The Big Texan Steak Ranch, home to the 72oz steak challenge where if you can eat the whole steak (I kid you not, it’s like the size of my whole body) and all the sides in 1 hour, you get it for free! They serve up great food, even if you don’t plan on attempting the steak challenge though! If your visit falls during Thursday – Sunday, you can also enjoy their Route 66 zip line and maze!
Blue Swallow Motel – Tucumcari
815 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Connie: Midwest Wanderer
Step into your room at the Blue Swallow Motel and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Vintage furniture, a chenille bedspread, and a real working 1939 black rotary dial phone take you back to the Mother Road’s heyday. A smoke detector and television are the only visible hints that you are in the 21st century. Patio chairs beckon you to sit and enjoy the evening air, a great option since the small rooms don’t have much seating space.
The Blue Swallow is one of the few motels that stuck out the decline in business when I-40 took traffic away from Route 66. The motel was built with garage stalls between several of the guest rooms. Today, restored classic cars are parked in some of the stalls, and the inside walls are painted with adorable murals of the Pixar animated movie Cars. In fact, the movie adopted the Blue Swallow’s “100% Refrigerated Air” neon sign for its fictional Route 66 motel.
You can read Connie’s review of the Blue Swallow Motel here.
(Photo Credit: Connie – Midwest Wanderer)
La Mesa Motel – Santa Rosa
2415 Rte 66, Santa Rosa, NM 88435
Scott and Hayley: International Hotdish
Don’t even think about staying anywhere else in New Mexico. La Mesa motel is the exact kind of Americana you’re searching for on Route 66. Simple, unassuming motel with a large classic mid-century style neon sign. You might think an old motel like this is a roach motel, but the owner has taken great care to make sure rooms are quaint and clean. Strong wi-fi but no breakfast. Prices are affordable and the owner is a fascinating character with a ton of stories – very kind. Do yourself a favor and embrace the full roadtrip experience at book your stay at La Mesa motel.
(Photo Credit: Scott – International Hotdish)
Bottger Mansion – Albuquerque
110 San Felipe St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
Theresa: The Local Tourist
Bottger Mansion is an elegant bed and breakfast on Route 66 in Old Town Albuquerque. The pastel pink building dates back to 1906, 1907, 1910, or 1912, depending on the source, but each one agrees that Charles Bottger was an early twentieth century wool merchant and that he built a magnificent mansion with modern conveniences for the time, including speaking tubes and central heating from the basement coal-fired furnace.
It’s changed hands several times over the years, but Steve and Kathy Hiatt are the owners now and they’ve run it successfully for over a decade. In typical B&B fashion, each room is decorated with a different theme. They’re named for prominent Albuquerqueans and we stayed in the purple-walled Clyde and Carrie Tingley room. Mr. Tingley was Governor of New Mexico from 1935 to 1939, friend to President Roosevelt and a devotee of the New Deal. He set up over a dozen hospitals during his tenure, including one named for his wife, whose tuberculosis was the reason they moved to New Mexico from Ohio in the first place.
Read Theresa’s review of the Bottger Mansion here
(Photo Credit: Theresa – The Local Tourist)
Sandia Peak Inn – Albuquerque
4614 Central Avenue Southwest, Albuquerque, NM 87105
What makes Sandia Peak Inn unique is the Native American statues in the car park, it really fits in well with the surroundings and the ‘Old Town’ vibes! The staff are really friendly and will do everything in their power to make sure your stay is perfect! As we were travelling as a 4, we were even shown 2 rooms with different layouts and could pick the one that we’d feel most comfortable in! The room rate also includes a continental breakfast and there is a small indoor door swimming pool!
Wigwam Motel – Holbrook
811 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ 86025
“Have you slept in a wigwam lately?” The Wigwam Motel is definitely a unique stop along Route 66! Each room is an individual concrete wigwam with an old fashioned classic car parked out the front! The main sleeping area is actually quite large and spacious, with enough room for 2 double beds. The bathroom area is in the slopped part of the wigwam, so unless you are a hobbit like me, you may find showering a little problematic!
The Wigwam Motel was inspiration for the Cozy Cone Motel in the Disney Pixar Cars movies. The Holbrook location only has 15 wigwams. There is a 2nd Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, further along the Route in California, which also has an on-site swimming pool and barbecue fire pit!
Route 66 Motel – Barstow
195 Main St, Barstow, CA 92311
I was first drawn to the Route 66 Motel because of the promise of ’round beds’, I thought it would be a fun and unique option! However, we stayed in a family room which was larger but just had regular shaped beds! The lady at the reception gave us a huge goodie bag full of stuff including: toothpaste, postcards, bags of craisins (dried cranberries), amongst other things, enough for all 4 of us, which was a nice personal touch!
The forecourt of the Route 66 Motel is full of old cars and funky memorabilia. Since my visit they have added a brightly coloured Route 66 mural!
Saga Motor Inn – Pasadena
1633 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
Julie: Open Wide The World
The Saga Motor Hotel, built in 1946, was part of the Post-war travel and tourism boom, which saw more and more motels pop up along Route 66.
Quintessentially mid-century modern on the outside —from palm trees to parking lot pool, concrete blocks to neon sign—, the motel interior could use a refresh; decorative wallpaper borders hint at a possible 1980s remodel.
The Saga’s rooms are clean, the price is reasonable, and the location is pure Route 66. Availability is generally good, with the exception of the New Year, when the Saga has the added appeal of sitting right along the route of the famed Pasadena Rose Parade!
(Photo Credit: Julie – Open Wide The World)
Hostelling International (HI) Santa Monica – Santa Monica
1436 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Christine: And The Story Goes
Hostelling International (HI) Santa Monica is just blocks away from the official end of Route 66. HI Santa Monica houses the Rapp Saloon which was the town’s first brick building and is now the city’s oldest structure. For over a hundred years, the space has worn many hats including a tavern, a town hall, and storage for a film company. In 1975, the Rapp Saloon became the city’s first landmark building.
In 1988, Hostelling International bought the site and built the largest purpose-built hostel in the USA. HI is a non-profit organization founded on an enduring belief in the power of travel to create a more tolerant world. Today, the hostel offers a TV room, living room, library, courtyard, pool table, and a full kitchen and dining room for guests to use; as well as daily activities for its guests and the community including free walking tours of Los Angeles, comedy and poetry nights, hikes, pub crawls, and more.
(Photo Credit: Christine – And The Story Goes)
*Side note by Kylie: I know what you’re thinking hostels…dorm rooms…snoring!!! BUT hostels are definitely an accommodation worth considering! To be honest, I have never stayed in a 10 person dorm room simply because the smallest of noises wake me up, however I HAVE stayed in PRIVATE rooms in hostels (New Zealand, Australia…I’m looking at you!). They can often be a very affordable option, especially if you opt for a shared bathroom (and if you’ve stayed at a campsite before then shared bathrooms aren’t any different)!*
Planning for your Route 66 Trip
(Disclosure: The following link is an Amazon affiliate link)
I used the Route 66: EZ66 GUIDE For Travelers – 4TH EDITION to help me in the planning stages on my Route 66 trip. Not only does it give you step by step driving instructions, but it also suggests unique accommodation options and must see roadside attractions. You can read my review of EZ66 here.
Have you visited any of these motels on Route 66? If you have any others that you think should be included on the list, please drop me a message!
Disclosure: Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking and it comes at no extra cost to you! As always, opinions are my own.